Making and installing a ramp on your bass (and why you should consider it)


I recently had a client approach me about putting a ramp on one of his

beautiful Kiesel basses. T. J. Armstrong, is a Canadian born Nashville

Bassist who has been playing with Tele Legend Johnny Highland for

some time now. The man knows his way around a bass and is a killer

guitar player as well. He is also a super nice Guy and very professional

in relating to me just what he was wanting.

He is also an endorsee for Kiesel Instruments. If you never

heard of Kiesel, they are part of the Carvin Corporation who’s been

around since the fifties. As did Carvin previously, Kiesel are top quality

instruments that are known for their super accurate fretboards and

excellent playability. The two Kiesel 5 strings that T.J. brought with

Him were certainly some of the easiest playing basses I have ever


I have seen basses with ramps but I had never played a bass with one

Before, to be honest I looked upon them as the “bass fad do jour”. I

have heard players describe how they function, that it keeps your

fingers from digging in too deep under the strings thus allowing you to

play faster and more articulate to which “Grumpy old Guy” Me thinks:

“Yeah, whatever… Give it a couple months and these things will go the

way of Fatheads and Gizmotrons”… and “where in the hell did I put

that 7/64” allen wrench… I just freaking had it… Crap”. Anyway, back

to the ramp. I have always been open to trying new things so when T.J.

approached me with the idea, I said “let’s do it!”

T.J. was real clear about the dimensions he was looking for with this

ramp; he wanted it to be wide enough that it lined up with even with

the sides of both pickups. He also wanted the height to be the same

as the rear pickup and slightly higher than the front pickup (more in

line with the rear pickup)

The type of wood to be used was not that important as T.J. wanted the

ramp to be black to match the pickups. I could used ebony (and that

would of looked really cool) but I didn’t have a scrap piece on hand that

was close to the dimensions I needed (I had already discussed with T.J

that most likely I would be staining or painting the ramp). After going

through my scrap bin I found a piece of curly maple that was just the

correct thickness I needed.

The next step was to measure and mark the correct dimensions.


Height of Blank


Cutting and fitting of the blank


Next I marked the center line and measured for the centers of the pickup screw mounts.


This brought me taking the ramp down to the proper height; I marked the height of both pickups on the ramp blank.


Then used a stationary belt sander to take the ramp down to the desired height.


Time for stain/paint. Started out black leather dye then sprayed with polyurethane for the sealer.


Next I sprayed lacquer for the top coats


Okay. After trying it out I have to say that I’m a convert; It truly makes a difference. Pretty amazing actually, something I have never considered.

I’m happy. T.J.’s happy. Mission accomplished.